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Although Abreu's family restaurant burned down, she saw that as a sign to play a key role in her family business. Photo: cherrybombe.com/
Although Abreu's family restaurant burned down, she saw that as a sign to play a key role in her family business. Photo: cherrybombe.com/

How tragedy jump started Pisqueya, a line of new sauces coming to stores near you

The Latino-inspired sauces come with heavy Dominican influences.

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Maritza Abreu knew at a young age she wanted to be involved in the food industry.

Her parents were immigrants from the Dominican Republic and came to the United States in the 1970s looking for a better place to raise their family.

They owned a popular Dominican restaurant called Puerto Viejo in the center of Brooklyn, but were not thrilled about her following in their footsteps.

“My parents always told me to go to college and get a white collar job and to have an easier life,” Abreu said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.

She did attend college and worked in the corporate world, but Abreu knew deep down she wanted to work with diverse foods offering a Latino fusion.

Her mind always came back to a special pique (hot sauce) her parents would make for their loyal customers at the restaurant.

“My parents were always against using packaged condiments and seasoning, my parents made their pique from scratch all of the time,” said Abreu.

The base for their special pique was to only use all-natural peppers imported from the mountains of the Dominican Republic, called El Cibao.

The perfectly ripe and fresh peppers offered a kick of flavor peppers in the United States don’t offer.

“Everybody who ordered food would always ask for our hot sauce, it became very popular,” she said.

As Abreu adjusted to working in the corporate world and attaining a white collar job like her parents always wanted, she got terrible news that her parents' restaurant — a well-known staple in Brooklyn for over 20 years — had caught fire.

Amid the tragedy, Abreu saw it as an opportunity to help her parents restart their business and grow the family brand. She also wanted to start selling their family’s pique at the revamped restaurant.

Her parents, in turn, were hesitant to support her dream.

“My parents thought that I was very ambitious, they did provide support for me, but they did think that I was overly ambitious,” she said.

Despite their initial reservations, Abreu quickly turned them into believers, and the family officially entered the hot sauce scene.

“We named it Pisqueya, we started selling it at the restaurant and from then on local markets, grocery stores started carrying it,” said Abreu.

Their loyal customers soon bought the pique in droves, showcasing it online, which encouraged her to forge on with the new business venture.

“Our friends and community members have been there for us from the beginning,” he said.

Thus far, Pisqueya can be found in every market in Brooklyn, and recently began selling nationally at Walmart, which has been amazing for Abreu and her family.

Her goal is to continue sourcing Pisqueya until every household in America has experienced its delicious flavors that are a direct representation of Latino culture.

“There was also a lack of flavorful hot sauces in the market,” she said.

The key to hot sauces is to add more flavor to one's meal. Abreu believes that mainstream sauces do not carry that same ideology.

“Other sauces are typically salty, and so it was different from what I knew, our hot sauces are flavorful. It enhances the flavor of food,” she said.

Abreu is proud to showcase her three hot sauces: Passionfruit salsa, made with island-grown passion fruit and chili peppers that bring a tropical kick, with notes of sweetness.

Her second pique is the Medium Buzz, made with fresh jalapeños, which often gives a zesty kick to one's meal.

Lastly, her Smoky Hot sauce, made with authentic Dominican Scotch Bonnet Peppers, and known for its smoky and sweet finish.

As Pisqueya starts hitting shelves nationwide, Abreu is planning to add more products to her line.

“I am in the works of offering tropical bbq sauces, and dry spices,” she said. “The idea of our business is to bring a Latin touch without adding a lot of salt and sugar.”

If you are curious about Pisqueya and want to add some Latino flavor to your dishes, order some online. You wont regret it!

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